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A Book of Interest

A Force for Nature:  The Story of NRDC and The Fight to Save Our Planet
by John H. Adams and Patricia Adams, with George Black
Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA. 400 pages (2010)

This book chronicles the work of the authors and others in the creation and operation of one of the nation's largest non-profit environmental organizations, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Prior to the 1970s, events that led to the formation, in 1970, of the NRDC were many and diverse:  raw sewage in New York's Hudson River, fire on Cleveland's Cuyahoga River, a major oil spill off California's coast, battles over dams by Sierra Club's David Brower, soot settling on the authors' children as they slept in New York, a desire for a life of public service, clear cutting of California's two thousand year old redwood trees, the Trans-Alaska (oil) Pipeline.

Author John Adams and a small group of students and attorneys founded the NRDC in 1970, the same year the National Environmental Policy Act became effective.  The group made early use of this legal tool which "required that every new federal action that significantly affected the environment has to be the subject of a detailed environmental impact statement."  Other important legislation enacted in the early years of NRDC, e.g., the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, provided additional bases for litigation.

For John Adams, it was the beginning of a 36 year job of leading the organization he helped create.  Litigation was, and still is, a major part of the NRDC's efforts.  Although John Adams no longer leads the organization, he is still active as a trustee.

The authors provide discussions of several major projects and law suits that have been central to the success of the NRDC.

Submitted by David Newton

The Chair’s Bragging Corner (North Alabama)

Where to start? The Sierra Club of North Alabama stays busy! Kudos to Charlotte Buening for her outstanding educational outreach at Hays Nature Preserve Earth Day celebration. Our booth was extremely popular as Charlotte handed out green bags, talked up our BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) campaign, and raised awareness about our Group, its goals, and activities.

Tom Burley, our Outdoor Chair, provided a series of most excellent trainings. It began with CPR/AED for our Outdoor Leaders who lead water outings. The second training was for Leaders who will be leading youth outings. Now if that wasn’t enough, earlier this month, Tom spent a weekend teaching our members and the general public about First Aid skills needed to handle outdoor (i.e. backpack, off-trail hiking, paddles, etc.) or other emergencies (i.e. natural disasters) when EMS is two hours or more away. Through a presentation that was witty and educational, shared stories, and hands-on practice scenarios, we all walked away prepared.

Steve Jackson, our Program Chair, had a great line-up of Thursday night programs. He set a new attendance record when Dr. Doug Phillips, creator, producer and host of ‘Discovering Alabama’ spent a thought provoking evening with us. We also had the Black Warrior RiverKeeper and a representative from Huntsville’s Landscape Management Division. Not just educational, but included fascinating “I didn’t know that” moments.

Our second annual “Chill Out on the Mountain” was another success story. It began with Charlie Cohen’s invigorating ‘Early Bird’ hike, followed later by my “Sleepyhead” moderate stroll for those who stared down their alarm clocks. As always, Chef Steve Jackson prepared tasty chili and other delectable delights. After a shared hour plus of camaraderie, Doug Horacek, (Conservation Chair), provided a grand finale wildflower walk.

No, I’m not finished yet. Doug, Desiree Kiplinger (Outdoor Leader) and I shared our morning with two groups of children at a local summer camp. To plant the seeds of conservation, we had a fun time sharing African animal pictures, telling stories and writing Cinquain poetry. Desiree, who developed a Tike Hike outings program, interviewed with WAFF Channel 48. Not only did Desiree promote the toddler/parent program, but she did a great job of delivering our Sierra Club message.

And, as always, a HUGE THANK YOU to all our Outdoor Leaders who continue to provide a wealth of activities to raise our awareness. And to a very dedicated ExCom who, through coordinated efforts, (i.e. the e-letter, website, FB, advertising, etc, etc), makes this all happen.
Sandy Kiplinger, North Alabama Club Chairperson


August 2012

Where Have You Been This Summer?

Alabama Sierrans have traveled far and wide--and we'd like to know more about it! Send us a photo of your summer vacation.

Below, One of the Alabama Sierra Club's frequent contributors took a trip to Iceland. And, of course, he doesn't go anywhere without his Sierra Club hat! Thanks David Newton for sending in your trip picture of Iceland. (notice his enthusiasm for the clothesline--nature's eco-friendly clothes dryer!)

David Newton

Forever Wild and YOU

We need your help--and so does Alabama's Forever Wild Program

In the coming months, the Alabama Sierra Club will be sending mailings encouraging all members to promote the Forever Wild program and the upcoming vote November 6. We need your help to do this! We want REAL stories from Sierra Club members who've been enjoying Forever Wild properties. We want your photos!

Everyone needs to SEE the beautiful and ecologically important places that have been preserved by Forever Wild. Send your photos and short trip descriptions--or what a specific place means to you (think a paragraph or two at most!) to We'll take care of the rest!

You can also help get the word out by writing a letter to the editor. Use these handy Sierra Club tips to make your letter count even more!

Want to learn more about Forever Wild? Check out these links:

Forever Wild Facts
Forever Wild FAQs
Forever Wild Interactive Map with Recreational Opportunities
Forever Wild Land Purchases List
Alabamians for Forever Wild Coalition List - updated 5.12.12
Forever Wild Powerpoint
The Forever Wild Land Trust Report
Forever Wild Land Trust Homepage

A Message from Conservation Alabama About Forever Wild

Tannehill State Park has been expanded to include more hiking
and camping opportunities thanks to the Forever Wild
preservation program.

When asked what are some of the most important amenities to have in our communities, a majority of Americans list things such as quality schools, access to jobs, safe neighborhoods and protecting the environment. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2011 Community Preference Survey, the general public believes these are roles that local and state governments should play in order to make cities and towns more inviting and marketable.

While these types of surveys have some benefits, such as prompting people to reflect on their values and reminding them what they enjoy most about their community, citizens are often confused about how they can promote these ideals. Issues like improving schools, attracting and retaining businesses, and reducing crime rates take a lot of effort and, often more frustratingly for the general public, they take a lot of time.

Therefore, the idea of creating more recreational space and designating more public land in the state of Alabama for things like hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing and hunting seems like a lofty aspiration or distant goal. Luckily, it’s already happening, and has been for nearly 20 years. Even better news is that Alabama residents will have a chance in November to ensure it continues.

Since it’s creation 20 years ago, the Forever Wild Land Trust has ensured more than 227,000 acres of land in Alabama remain open to public use. In addition to purchasing lands that expand existing parks and wildlife areas, Forever Wild has also helped create 220 miles of new recreational trails within 21 new recreation areas and nature preserves. These investments preserve the important places in our state and make our communities healthier and more inviting. read the full post here>>>

A Letter from Black Warrior Riverkeeper to the University of Alabama Regarding the Shepard Bend Mine

Black Warrior Riverkeeper has asked the UA System not to rely on ADEM’s and ASMC’s judgment; the permits they issued are not sufficiently protective of water quality. Dr. Arthur Benke, UA Professor of Biological Sciences, remarked in a Crimson White article, “it is fortunate that The University of Alabama owns much of this land and has the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of long-term stewardship rather than short term profit. I hope the University will see the wisdom in putting a stop to the proposed activity.”

Our partners in this effort include Alabama Environmental Council, Alabama Rivers Alliance, Avondale Brewing Company, Birmingham Audubon Society, Cahaba Brewing Company, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Cahaba River Society, Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Citizens Opposed to Strip Mining on the Black Warrior River, Coosa Riverkeeper, enAct, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama's Task Force for the Stewardship of Creation, GASP, Glen Iris Neighborhood Association, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Green Initiative at UAB, Good People Brewing Company, Hurricane Creekkeeper, League of Women Voters of Alabama, Metro-Birmingham NAACP, Mobile Baykeeper, Montevallo Environmental Club, Occupy Birmingham, Patriots for Conservation, Restoring Eden at Samford, Southern Environmental Law Center, Tennessee Riverkeeper, UA ECo, UA NAACP, UA Student Government Association, UAB Student Government Association, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Wild South.

Our opposition will persist until UA announces that it will never lease or sell land or minerals for mining at Shepherd Bend. We would be happy to send you more information and meet with you. In the meantime, I have enclosed over a hundred letters to you that concerned citizens signed this week. These letters complement over 9,000 signatures on an ongoing petition, which have been delivered to the UA System Trustees.

Charles Scribner Executive Director

Read the full Letter Here:


Don't Play a Shell Game with the Arctic

We've been fighting Shell Oil's attempts to drill in Alaska's Polar Bear Seas for months. But the past few weeks have shown just how unprepared Shell really is.

First, we learned that Shell's cleanup barge is ill-equipped to deal with a serious Arctic storm. Then, Shell admitted that it couldn't actually meet EPA clean air protections it had already agreed to. To top it off, last weekend a Shell drill ship headed for the Arctic almost grounded on an Alaskan island.
It's obvious: Shell cannot drill safely in the Arctic Ocean. Join the 40,000 people who have already emailed President Obama and the EPA, or send the Enivronmental Protection Agency a message on Twitter.

Alabama Birding Trails logoLike Birds? Visit the Alabama Birding Trails website!

Working with several conservation groups, including the Birmingham Audubon Society, a system of sites throughout Alabama has been developed to encourage people to get outside and enjoy watching birds. Learn more about this project and these sites by visiting and by "liking" the trails on facebook!

Tentative Date Set for Alabama Sierra Club 2012 Fall Retreat

Stay tuned for more details in the months to come!

Event: Alabama Sierra Club’s 2012 Fall Retreat
Date: November 9, 10, 11
Place: Beckwith Camp and Conference Center
10400 Beckwith Lane
Fairhope, AL 36532-6008

Share Your Piece of America

This month, the Sierra Club launched My Piece of America, where we encourage you to share your favorite outdoor place and take action to protect special areas.

Many of our favorite wild places -- from the striking red rock deserts of the Southwest to the cool, leafy city park where you take your kids -- need your help to protect them from threats like oil drilling and climate change.

One way you can help right now is by urging President Obama to designate some of America's best wild places as national monuments.

Upload and share a photo of your favorite piece of America with your family and friends, and inspire them to take action, too. Visit "My Piece of America to send a letter to President Obama, upload your favorite photos and enjoy those submitted by others.

Sierra Club Outings

Summer is Here!! Take a great hike! Or just enjoy gathering with friends to discuss environmental issues! Come join us on the trail or just out for a stroll down the mountain! more>>>